A couple weeks back we linked to an LA Times article on CA Prop 37, an issue that would make California the first state in the country to require labels on products whose genes have been altered for one desired outcome or another.
As expected (and as reported by grist.org), this has rankled the powers that be in the food industry, especially Pamela Bailey, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). In a recent speech to the American Soybean Association (most soy grown in the U.S. is GMO), Bailey made clear that defeating the initiative “is the single highest priority for GMA this year.”
The grist.org piece goes on to say:
You may not know the GMA, but its members represent the nation’s largest food producers — those with the most at stake in the battle over GMO labeling. Soft drink and snack giant PepsiCo, cereal makers Kellogg and General Mills, and of course, biotech behemoth Monsanto all belong to the GMA.
According to state filing reports, GMA has already spent $375,000 on its efforts to oppose the labeling measure, with its members adding additional out-of-state lobbying power in the tens of thousands of dollars.
…For years GMA flexed its lobbying muscle in state legislatures all over the country fighting bills that were simply trying to remove junk food and soda from school vending machines.
Big Food lobbyists have also banded together to vociferously fight any attempt to restrict junk food marketing to children. For example, in 2005, GMA was a founding member of the Alliance for American Advertising, whose stated purpose was to defend the food industry’s alleged First Amendment right to advertise to children and to promote voluntary self-regulation as an alternative to government action.
More recently, GMA was among leading trade groups and corporations opposing the federal government’s attempt to improve industry’s own voluntary guidelines for food marketing to children. As this Reuters special report from April explains, GMA’s chief lobbyist visited the White House last July along with several top food industry representatives (from companies including Nestle, Kellogg, and General Mills) to scuttle an effort by four federal agencies that would have protected children from predatory junk food marketing.
Recent polls indicate that a whopping 90 percent of Californians want GMOs labeled while 40 other nations (including the European Union, Brazil, and China) already require food makers to disclose GMOs. As the November election draws near, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.